Thursday, January 5, 2012

On a more serious note: Buy Books

Yesterday, I created a list of fictional books to poke fun at the end of year lists being created, all talking about the best books of poetry from 2011.  Well, it's the new year, and t he talk now is about resolutions.  Instead of coming up with a list of fake resolutions today (meaning I will probably make on in a few days) I am going to offer a resolution to you all.  Now it has to do with books, but I thought I would add a little twist, so hold on.

I submit that each of you should find a press from which you have never purchased a book and buy one or more of their titles directly from them. 

I also submit that you go back to a press who had published a book of yours and buy a title which you might not consider otherwise.   

Yes.  I said it.  I want you to go buy books you have no idea as to whether you will like them or not.  If all you ever buy are the book you know you will like, then you are killing the art of writing.  if you only buy from presses you know, then you are killing the printed word. 

So what if you end up not liking the books you buy. 

So what if you don't like reading essays or short stories.

If that's the case, give the books away.  I can tell you if more writers bought more books, we wouldn't have to worry half as much as we do about how many copies our own books will sell.  I have been pretty fortunate in that most of the books of poetry I buy are ones I enjoy.  However, for that small percentage of books I don't enjoy, I either find someone to send the book to (at my expense) or I keep it around until I find someone to send it to (at my expense). 

People need to get over themselves when it comes to buying books.  The only person that matters when it comes to your personal library is you.  If you were to come to my classroom and look at my book shelf of poetry books, you would notice I have no outwardly discernible method of organization.  If you looked closely, you would see I have a highly organic system of organizing my poetry books which changes at whim at least once or twice a month. Who cares if you have all of the so-called 'name' poets in your shelves?  Seriously.  Who are you going to offend if you happen to have a chapbook or book of poems on your shelf by someone nobody else has ever heard of?  Hey, if you own one of my books you have probably already lowered your standards, and you may as well make some stranger happy by buying their book, too.

I just bought three books from Foothills Publishing.  They arrived yesterday, and they are gorgeous.  Right now I have A Field Guide to Trees  by Bill Lavender on my desk, and the art (exterior and interior) is marvelous.  The poems are lovely, and the design aesthetic breaks new ground as to what I previously thought possible.

Go out and buy some books you would not have normally considered!


  1. I'm with you. Ambitious reading is as important as ambitious writing. I'm currently on a jag of poet's memoirs. Fascinating stuff! (Wow, most poets were really messed up! Or at least the ones with memoirs.)

  2. I'm planning to ask Facebook writer friends to each give me one title of theirs to buy. I won't be able to buy them all, but I'll buy a bunch of 'em!